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Published: Thursday, April 03, 2014Dennis Murphy built this lightweight photo diorama as a showcase for some of his N scale wood structure kits. Building scenery to surround your HO scale model train layout is half the fun of model railroading. Apply many strips of plaster bandages over the entire mountain shape until the newspaper balls are completely covered with plaster bandages.
Use two or more colors of full-strength scenic paint to create additional depth of color on the mountain landscape, applying it on top of the base paint in select areas. Sprinkle HO scale pre-manufactured rubble, talus rocks and other debris where such rocks and rock falls might be found at the base of a mountain or the end of gullies. Paint in any large areas of green grass with an opaque paint: blend two or three colors of green for more realism.
Place pre-made HO scale model trees and scrubs on the mountain side if they are appropriate for the geography. Learn about recreating the town of Cottonwood for a train model diorama in HO scale in this free train hobby video.
In the early days of model railroading, most mountains and tunnels were made with mounds of crumpled newspaper and plaster.

If you're modeling the fall, then the grape leaves turn a brilliant red, dull red, brown then off (about the only thing that does change color with the seasons around here), and old, abandoned vines are greyish and leafless.
At about 3 hours per batch of 40 vines, it was a bit laborious, but the end result is worth it.
I'm still debating about installing the big fans that keep the frost off, as that would definitely date the module as modern.
I'm currently working on modeling a winery and really wanted to a vineyard nearby, but the commercial product I found was going to be pretty expensive for the size I wanted, so I submitted to the idea of the grapes being rolled in from a town off the layout.
Now I have renewed interest (and hope) in building a vineyard and adding that part of the operation. Scenic backgrounds are a creative challenge and many different materials are available to make the scenery look realistic to proper scale. If your layout is for a Santa Fe line, and you want to replicate the run from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Phoenix, Arizona, for example, look at color photographs of the topography for the area. Locate the mountain base 2 or 3 inches away from any established tracks going by the proposed mountain: few railroads would lay tracks directly next to a mountain side due to the danger of rock slides.
Close the newspaper balls with a little adhesive or masking tape so they will keep their shape.

Hyrdocal sets very quickly, so don’t make more plaster than you can apply in a few minutes. Use a water-based scenic paint or latex paint that is thinned with water until it creates a stain. Give the mountain even more sculptural definition by mixing a thinned dark brown or black paint and rubbing it into the creases, folds or other surfaces of the mountain. Browse through model railroading supply catalogs to find ideas for creating a realistic mountain view. Press them flatter in some areas to form mesas, or press them into sharp folds to create valleys.

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